It’s been nearly impossible to avoid coming across the topic of Bridgerton over the last year or more, and here at Dragon Con is no different. Panelists Emily Myerscough, Amanda-Rae Prescott, Jen Johnson, along with moderator Andie La-Rosa Jimenez from the Alt History track got together to discuss Bridgerton: Our Love Affair with Regency Romance on Friday at 4PM on the Fan Tracks channel.
The first thing the panelists made sure to note was that the books and the series are very different. Prescott made it a point to say that she recommends the books if you’re looking for Regency romance, but if you like Bridgerton because of the inclusive casting and diversity, the books do not have that. Johnson did say that she started watching the show because of the Regency aspect and then became hooked very quickly because of the humor and the diverse casting.
When it came to color-blind versus color-inclusive casting, Prescott believed that Bridgerton does a little bit of both. She appreciated that there was commentary about color in the narrative, specifically with the characters of Lady Danbury and The Duke of Hastings. However, she did think that the character of Marina Thompson might have been failed by the color-inclusive casting. Where her character ends up might have read a lot differently if she were portrayed by a white woman.
Myerscough noted that Bridgerton is a gateway series that is going to help get people more into Regency stories as well as diversity. Prescott was also glad that the diversity extended to the colors used for the fabrics of the clothing because she was bored with series that put everyone in white dresses. Johnson, who is an Austen scholar, noted that higher status individuals wore more colorful garments because they can afford it. So when the Featherington family shows out in their loud, garish colors, they are trying to show their affluence even though they are actually struggling for money.
The way a character is dressed is also a big part of displaying their personalities. The next oldest Bridgerton daughter is Eloise, and her character is one that wants to break out of the social norms of the period. It made a lot of sense to Myerscough why the detail of her not wanting to drop her hems like a proper young woman who is being introduced to society would do, because she wants to continue being able to move freely. Prescott commented that she didn’t love how the character of Penelope was styled throughout the show because it didn’t match her personality, and Jimenez commented that she read it was a deliberate choice because the character is being forced by her mother and by society to not be who she truly is.
The panelists all agreed that the series has a complex interweaving of storylines, and every character has their own agenda that they are constantly trying to push forward. We can look forward to another season on Netflix and learning more about the oldest Bridgerton brother, Anthony, and what happens next with his story.